Songs for Hurting Hearts

I don’t know if you remember, but earlier this year I acquired a new skill: Surviving the Breakup.

It sucked.

Then it got better.

Then it got worse, almost to the point of starting over. 

Then it got better.

Then it got a lot better.

Then it became something that I did not think about every second of every day. Want to know a secret? Sometimes I forget about it. Maybe even for half a day. It’s rare, but it is happening. I am moving on. 

But back to the crappy part…in the first week or two I began seeking songs to communicate how I was feeling. It was kind of a journal for when I didn’t have words. Some of the songs are more “overall sentiment” rather than literal situations. Some are quite literal situations. I can really, really remember shuffling through my days knowing with absolute certainty that I would never be over him. Ever. (Thus, the Colin Hay song.) But that’s kind of how it is when things like that first happen. And you know what? I climbed that mountain of grief, one pebble at a time. I’m getting over it. And him. I don’t want to talk about it too much more other than to give myself a pat on the back and hope that my words give other people hope in their time of despair. 

I have friends going through similar situations. It is bizarre to see so many breakups happen in this year with its unlucky number. I was telling my aunt about that phenomenon the other day and she said she’s seen it in her world, too. Not just this year, but in years that end in 2 or 3. She pointed out that my parents divorced in ’82/’83. Numerical coincidences always catch my attention. 

Anyway, enjoy my sad songs. Let them help you process some bullshit. Or, just be entertained…because they are all great pieces of music. 

What are your go-to sad songs? 

Go buy Spirit Family Reunion. It’s like pouring joy into your ears.


 My favorite song on the album is a cover called Green Rocky Road (MP3). It was really, really fun and powerful to see performed live and 5 feet from me in Austin. The whole album is a fantastic folky bluegrass collection. The CD packaging is simple and letterpress printed. I ordered mine from their Bandcamp page and got the instant download. You should do that right now. I’ll wait.

They were at a SXSW showcase sponsored by Paste Magazine, Sennheiser and Newport Folk Festival.  For a song or two I simply enjoyed their music and hipster folk style, but after a few I realized I’d heard them before. Last summer I listened to the stream of The Newport Folk Festival on NPR and remember loving a band. This was that band!


Here’s their Tiny Desk Concert from last Fall. It makes me want to pick up my banjo and actually learn how to play it. To be fair, though, lots of my music catalog does that. 

Go listen to Ben Howard. You are welcome.


If I’ve listened to Every Kingdom by Ben Howard once in the last couple of months, I’ve listened to it 50 times. I discovered this, like lots of things I discover, from Maggie Mason of Mighty Girl. On my first listen I thought, “Ooooh…nice.” Then I started listening to it every hour. Then, about 6 weeks ago, I listened to it 5 times a day for a few days. I’m back down to 3x a week with this one but don’t see it leaving rotation anytime soon. 

Part of the appeal is that it has no connection to my history. I’ve been struggling with music things as of late because it seems every album in my library is somehow connected to that 
relationship. I know I’m being too sensitive and someday soon I can again enjoy all of Antifogmatic without having to skip the first track. I’ll be ecstatic when even the thought of listening to The Head and The Heart doesn’t make me queasy. There’s lots of Paul Simon to skip, along with Fruit Bats, Van Morrison, Bright Eyes and all sorts of others. We didn’t just share hearts, we shared songs and losing that is like losing him twice. It sucks. I digress.

The main part of the appeal, though, is that it’s just a damn good album. The lyrics are very well written, the music is rich and the whole album feels like a long, warm hug. Or a really good run. Or belly laughs with people who truly know each other. It’s a lot of emotions for me and none of them are sad. 

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